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    Mezes and seafood of Turkey.

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Turkish Foods

Two of the many types of Turkish foods are covered here. Because of its proximity to the many seas it’s not unexpected that seafood is plentiful in the coastal regions of Turkey. Bread is another ubiquitous food. It came fresh with every meal. Even in small restaurants the bread seemed to come right from the oven. Street vendors everywhere offer a variety of breads, many seemed to be variations of bagels or pretzels.The national drink is tea, and apple tea is served as well.Every restaurant offers a variety of appetizers called mezes. We found it easy to make a meal of these. The most notable commonality, everywhere we ate, was the freshness of the mezes. They can be vegetarian or contain meat or seafood. It would be easy for a vegetarian to find something from the meze selection almost everywhere.


Picture of various fish laid out, ready to be chosen.On the edge of Istanbul there is an area called Kumpaki with many seafood restaurants. There are two sides to this area one on the water side of the train tracks and the other on the land side. Both have a large number of restaurants. On the water side you may choose your dish from the stands near the entrance to the restaurants like those shown here.

Almost all restaurants in the Kumpaki area will have menus printed in six languages. But, if you are in other parts of Turkey you may want to know what to order. Here is a list of commonly found sea foods in Turkey.

Seafood was not too pricy but watch out for those the have MP or market price on the menu.

English Turkish Genus Species
Abalone Deniz Kulağı Haliotis diversicolor
Anchovy Hamsi Engraulidae (Family)
Black Sea Bream Çupra Acanthopagrus schlegelii
Bluefish Lüfer Pomatomus saltatrix
Bonito Palamut Katsuwonus pelamis
Crayfish Kerevit generic
Cuttlefish Mürekkepbalığı Sepia esculnta
Eel Yılanbalığı Anguilla japonica
Fish Balık generic
Grey Mullet Kefal Liza affinis
Hog-Fish Lipsoz Lachnolaimus maximus
Lobster Istakoz Homarus gammarus
Mackerel Uskumru Rastrelliger faughni
Mussel Midye Mytilus edulis
Octopus Ahtapot Octopus vulgaris
Rainbow Trout Alabalık Oncorhynchus mykiss
Red Gurnard Kirlangich Aspitrigla cuculus
Red Mullet Barbunya Mullus barbatus
Salmon Somon Salmo salar
Sea Bass Levrek Paralabrax maculatofasciatus
Sea Bream Çupra Beryx decadactylus
Slender Rockfish Iskorpit Scorpaena elongata
Sole Dil Balgi Solea vulgaris
Squid Kalamar generic
Sturgeon Mersin Balığı Acipenser spp.
Swordfish Kılıç Xiphias gladius
Tuna Ton Balığı Thunnus – spp.
Turbot Kalka Reinhardtius hippoglossoides
Whiting Mezgit Merlangius merlangus



A plate with stuffed squash blossoms.

Stuffed squash blossoms, a Turkish meze.

We usually began our meals with a sampling of a few mezes. Many go well with bread and drink so it was easy to eat too much before the main course arrived. We liked the mezes much better than the main courses in many cases. Many contained fresh parsley or mint that added a fresh taste.

Meze Description
Acılı Ezme  A hot, spicy, freshly mashed tomatoes with onion and green herbs.
Acuka A spread having both Circassian and Syrian origins, containing Aleppo pepper paste, ground walnuts, tomato paste, bread crumbs, garlic, and spices.
Muhammara A spread having both Circassian and Syrian origins, prepared containing Aleppo pepper paste, ground walnuts, tomato paste, bread crumbs, garlic, and spices.
Arnavut Ciğeri Fried liver cubes served with onion, parsley and hot pepper.  (literally “Albanian liver”)
Patlıcan Salatası  Turkish eggplant salad.
Bakla Ezmesi  Turkish hummus prepared from broad beans.
Borani Spinach and yogurt spread.
Börek  Very thin dough layers stuffed with cheese, meat, or vegetables.
Cacık  Cucumber with yogurt, dried mint, and olive oil.
Cevizli Biber  A dip made with walnut, red pepper, pepper paste, onion, and cumin.
Çiğ Köfte  Raw meat patties, prepared with ground beef or lamb and fine-ground bulgur.
Etsiz Çiğ Köfte Ground vegetables, beans, and tomato paste. Etsiz çiğ köfte means  “meatless raw meatballs”,
Çoban Salatası  A Turkish mixed salad of tomato, cucumber, onion, green peppers, and parsley.
Dolma Any type of leaf or vegetable stuffed with rice and herbs.
Fasulye Pilaki  White beans cooked with garlic, tomato paste, carrots, and olive oil.
Hardalotu A Turkish mustard plant salad.
Humus A dip or spread made from sesame (tahini), ground chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice.
Içli Köfte A fried meatball made from ground meat and bulgur
Kabak Çiçeği Dolması Turkish stuffed zucchini blossoms, a kind of dolmeh.
Kısır A spread of fine-ground bulgur, tomato paste, parsley, onion, garlic, sour pomegranate juice and spices.
Sarma Içi A spread of fine-ground bulgur, tomato paste, parsley, onion, garlic, sour pomegranate juice and spices.
Kızartma  A pâté of mixed fried vegetables (eggplants, peppers, zucchini for example) served with yogurt or tomato-garlic sauce.
Midye Dolma Mussels stuffed with rice.
Piyaz White bean or potato salad with onion and vinegar.
Şakşuka Fried and chopped eggplant and peppers served with garlic yogurt or tomato sauce.
Enginar Artichoke hearts.


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